Thursday 17 October 2019

Aoife Walsh: 'Some non-CAO options that students may want to think about now'


Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh
Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

While sixth-year students are very busy preparing for practical and oral exams, it is a quiet time of the year in relation to the CAO. Of course, this does not mean that students should not be thinking about life after the Leaving Cert and there are a number of non-CAO options they can consider now, including these:


The ESB is currently heavily engaged in a marketing campaign to recruit apprentices to their electrical apprentice scheme. The application process closes on March 25. This apprenticeship has been running for many years now and is extremely popular.

Applicants must hold at least a Junior Cert with Irish, English, maths, science and two other subjects. However, as competition is likely to be high, a strong Leaving Cert may be helpful. The application form will take 60 minutes to complete and will time out if left inactive for too long.

Applicants will also be asked to take an online aptitude test in five different areas. These will include verbal reasoning, spatial awareness, mechanical/technical, logical reasoning, numerical reasoning. Interested applicants will find more information by phoning 1890 393939 or by emailing

Recruitment is also open for a number of other apprenticeships, including Ryanair's aircraft maintenance and engineering apprenticeship and Bus Eireann's heavy vehicle mechanic apprentice.

See also the website.


The Racing Academy and Centre of Education (RACE) based in Kildare offers training for careers in the equestrian industry. Programmes include jockey and trainer courses, stable hand and management courses, as well as farrier training. The trainee jockey course is a 42-week residential programme, which allows graduates to become apprentice jockeys. It is also recognised by QQI as a Level 4 award. The assistant trainer course will allow graduates to obtain an assistant trainer's licence and progress towards a full trainer's licence. Graduates will also receive a FETAC Level 5 award.

Further education courses

As you can see from our important career dates list, this week there are a number of further education colleges holding open days and interview sessions. I have been approached by some sixth-year students this week who have asked me if it is too late to apply for a PLC. We have been encouraging our sixth-year students to apply for further education courses since November, however there are always some who choose not to do this.

Perhaps it is receiving less than ideal mock results that has focused minds. Regardless of the reason, I am glad to say it is not too late to apply.

All applicants should be aware, however, that further education colleges will continue to meet and interview applicants until all their places have been filled. Popular courses fill up quickly and some may already have their quota of students. However, not all those places may be taken up, so there could be availability down the line. Therefore, it is essential for students to apply now if they have not already done so. This will allow them to head into their mocks and orals safe in the knowledge that they have a college place waiting for them in September.

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin


Q I would love to do science in Trinity College Dublin, but I am terrified I will not get the points. What can I do?

A Science has become an increasingly popular third-level study choice. As a result, the minimum points for entry to all science-related courses have also increased.

This has left many young people who have a passion and talent for science struggling to meet the minimum points.

Thankfully, while interest in science has increased, so too has the science-related offering at further education.

Most general science degrees, including the four streams of general science offered at Trinity College Dublin, will accept applicants from QQI Level 5 qualifications commonly known as PLC courses, which are available in colleges of further education.

Trinity will accept graduates from 5M3807 and 5M5267 (these courses may have different names in different further education colleges, but are often called pre-university science or laboratory techniques etc).

There are some specific subject requirements in relation to this process, but interested applicants can find out more my entering the CAO code into the QQI/FETAC section of the CAO website.

Examples of these courses include: Science - Pre University in Killester College of Further Education, Laboratory Techniques in Cavan Institute, and Science and Laboratory Techniques at St John's Central College in Cork.

Irish Independent

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